There is insufficient knowledge about the role of house painting tasks and chemical exposure in the respiratory health of construction workers.
A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was conducted of 1,000 Finnish male construction painters and 1,000 carpenters (response rates 60.6% and 60.4%, respectively). Multivariate logistic regression models were adjusted for age, smoking, and atopy.
Outdoor painting, more than indoor painting, was associated with asthma-like respiratory symptoms [odds ratios (OR) 2.7-6.5], rhinitis symptoms [OR 2.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1-5.2], asthma (OR 4.7, 95% CI: 1.4-16.1), and chronic bronchitis (OR 2.9, 95% CI: 1.0-8.4) when compared to carpentry work. Risk factors for respiratory symptoms and chronic bronchitis were the use of epoxy/urethane paints, putties, and plasters and the use of glues or traditional paints. Water-based paints were not a common cause of symptoms.
Special attention should be paid to work methods and personal protection, not only in outdoor painting, but also in all filling, plastering, and sanding tasks. The shift from epoxy/urethane and other solvent-based paints to water-based products should be further encouraged.
2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc